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The real sea change in Wednesday night’s convention lay not in the depth and reach of the deliberate distortions, which were admittedly breathtaking. Rather, it was that all the Republicans speakers—not just political consultants whispering to favored columnists—have now shifted so far out of the reality-based community that pretty much every media organ, including Fox and even, implicitly, the Drudge Report, have criticized Ryan’s speech for its laundry list of distortions and hypocrisies. Fact-checking pieces headline all the major morning outlets, from the Washington Post:
to The New Yorker:
to The New Republic:
to the Huffington Post:
to Fox News:
and even to the front page of the New York Times, which cautiously notes Ryan’s hypocrisies toward the end of its piece:
The Drudge Report slyly links its main piece on Ryan to a simple AP transcript, a piece with no commentary at all since finding one that doesn’t mention the distortions is hard to come by.
The way the media in general frame facts has come under immense pressure since the rise of Newt Gingrich during the Reagan years, really. Liberals like to note that the mainstream press has been cowed by decades of complaints that it possesses a liberal bias and favor the Democratic party line while ignoring Republican ideas. In the past five years or so, though, some media critics have begun to push back. The charge from the other side is that mainstream media outlets have abandoned their duty to check simple, knowable facts. For instance, the GM factory Ryan suggested was closed during the Obama Administration was actually shuttered in December 2008, i.e., during the final months of the Bush Administration. Every outlet, except the most devoted Republican organs, has now reported this. So, there has been a big shift now. Daily political journalists have perhaps heard the message that they are not doing their jobs and feel bad about it.
That’s one explanation, and possibly it’s the truth. But the Republicans have also succumbed to the Obama equivalent of what Charles Krauthammer called, more than four years ago, Bush Derangement Syndrome. There is no problem of our time that cannot be assigned to some failing in the leadership of Barack Obama. Inside the bubble of their own chattering class, one could also argue, they have convinced themselves that Obama is to blame for the closure of that GM factory before he became president, or that the Obama/Ryan plan to funnel $716 billion out of future Medicare outlays is only an Obama idea, or that only Obama turned away from the Bowles-Simpson findings that Ryan also rejected. Occasionally these inside retoolings leak out into the public and cause embarrassment—that’s what really explains the recent Todd Akin fiasco. This year, the Republicans have doubled down on their challenges to Stephen Colbert’s famous line: “Facts are a liberal conspiracy.” Or, in a near-rewrite by Romney pollster Neil Newhouse: “We are not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”
More from Jack Hitt:
Political Asylum — November 6, 2012, 2:01 pm
Obama’s data-driven approach may decide today’s race—and determine the future of the G.O.P.
i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.
The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”
Pairs of moose-dung earrings sold each year at Grizzly’s Gifts in Anchorage, Alaska:
An Alaskan brown bear was reported to have scratched its face with barnacled rocks, making it the first bear seen using tools since 1972, when a Svalbardian polar bear is alleged to have clubbed a seal in the head with a block of ice.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”